Mumbai/ New Delhi:
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called a meeting of his alliance partners amid reports of a rift. Speculation peaked over strained ties after a meeting between the Chief Minister and his ally Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Both the Shiv Sena and NCP denied any divide but a comment by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, appearing to distance himself from decision-making in Maharashtra and ascribing only a supporting role to his party, stirred more trouble.
Sharad Pawar denied that a series of recent meetings he has held indicate a rethink on his part.
“Fadnavis is getting impatient,” Mr Pawar told NDTV, referring to the former Chief Minister and implying that Devendra Fadnavis and his party BJP are trying to bring down the government.
“But there is no threat to the Maharashtra government. All MLAs are with us, any attempt to break them at this time will result in the public beating us,” Mr Pawar said.
Maharashtra is worst-hit in India’s battle with coronavirus – the city of Mumbai has the maximum number of cases in the country.
The opposition BJP has been attacking the state government over its handling of the crisis. Senior BJP leader Narayan Rane has said that the state should be put under President’s Rule with the government of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray being removed.
The Shiv Sena, after last year’s Maharashtra election, broke up with the BJP after a thirty-year-long alliance.
Mr Pawar was instrumental in crafting an alliance of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress; and their new government, called the Maha Vikas Aghadi, took charge of the state.